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Auto clubs: Fill ‘er up!

By Nevy Clark

Car show travelers spend their cash on gas, hotels, restaurants, admissions and souvenirs.

“Some do it as their vacation. Some can go to events all over the country. You can easily drop a thousand dollars per tour. But it’s a hobby and what we enjoy doing,” said Barlup.

Barlup owns 15 antique vehicles, including Cadillac, Lincoln and Pontiac vehicles, plus old trucks, among them a dump truck, convertibles, even a fire truck. “The oldest we have is a 1914 Pullman touring car,” he said.

The AACA has four national regions with four to eight national meets or tours each year. “Some, like me, travel to all regions, while others stay within their local areas. Over 80 percent of AACA’s regional activities happen east of the Mississippi,” said Barlup.

Generally, they’re three-day gatherings. Barlup helps set up tours and events. There are also meetings and seminars, and the car shows are held on Saturdays, with a banquet that night.

In the 17th century, the French aristocracy loved to parade horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during summer weekends and holidays. It was the inspiration for the annual Keeneland Concours d’Elegance, a car show and tour in mid-July at the Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., that attracts hundreds of car enthusiasts from around the country and thousands of spectators.

This year, more than 160 cars were displayed on the racecourse grounds, among them a 1907 Franklin Runabout, 1930s American Pierce-Arrows and Rolls-Royces, and the latest European exotic sports cars. In addition, 83 Alfa Romeos from 30 states were there as part of the brand’s annual convention.

The Concours d’Elegance weekend concluded with an 80-mile round-trip countryside jaunt, in which 140 people in 65 cars participated.

“It’s not a race, but a tour,” said Ed Howell, who, with his wife, Carryl, organized the event. “It’s a drive to enjoy the Bluegrass scenery, which was absolutely gorgeous.”

Howell’s favorite memory: “We were last to arrive for lunch at the historic Boone Tavern in Berea, Ky., because we had to make sure everyone was accounted for. When we walked into the dining room, we got a standing ovation; so we must have done something right.”

As long as there are people who love classic automobiles and enjoy traveling to meet new people who share those passions, car club traveling will remain a valued part of Americana.